For many area residents, nothing fits the bill for a nostalgic Fourth of July like the celebration in the Eastern Shore hamlet of Fairhope. The small town with the long pier will hold its annual Independence Day festivities in the picturesque setting of Henry George Park on the bluff overlooking the pier and Mobile Bay.

The Baldwin Pops Band will crank up the music at 7 p.m. under direction of Dr. Roger Jones. On the program are “Big Band Signatures” by John Higgins, “Centennial Tribute March” by Roger Jones, Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday,” “Fantasy on American Sailing Songs” by Clare Grundman and a salute to the U.S. Armed Forces. Minister of Music of First Baptist Church of Fairhope John Baldwin will sing “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood and “You Raise Me Up” by Brendan Graham and Rolf Løvland.

There will be a children’s parade with flags and an award for the most interesting picnic arrangement. Bring chairs or blankets and a picnic supper.
A fireworks display coordinated by the Fairhope Volunteer Fire Department will begin at approximately 9 p.m. WABF 1220 AM will broadcast the Baldwin Pops concert live for those who are unable to make it to the park.

The north end of Fairhope Municipal Park will be open throughout the day and remain open until parking spaces are filled. The south end of the beachfront park and Knoll Park will also be available to spectators. Handicapped parking will be available near the fountain but will be limited; those wishing to utilize it should plan to arrive early and depart soon after the fireworks.

For more information, call 251-929-1466 or 251-987-5757.

Mobile Opera ‘Night of Song’ follows holiday
Mobile Opera stages a monthly “Night of Song” in an intimate setting where fans can appreciate voices normally heard from afar. July’s event will take place Tuesday, July 7, 6:30 p.m. at Café 615 (615 Dauphin St.) downtown.

Admission to the cabaret is free, but inquiry or reservations can’t hurt. For more information, call Mobile Opera at 251-432-6772. For reservations, call Café 615 at 251-432-8434.

Annual musicians’ camp gets new name in memoriam
For 16 years now, the Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Jazz Festival (GCEHJF) has brought some hot opportunities to an already scorching Mobile summer. The annual multi-day event features a celebration of spoken word and poetry, a free summer instruction camp for aspiring jazz musicians and a free concert on the first Saturday in August.

This year’s event comes with an honorary twist, set for unveiling. The aforementioned camp will be renamed in memory of Marcus Johnson, the leader of the Bay City Brass Band who passed away Dec. 20, 2014, at age 44. Music education was a constant drive of Johnson’s and his presence was a big part of the annual event.

Also emerging this year will be a scholarship fund for Johnson’s twin sons, Markel and Markes. Both young men are juniors at Murphy High School and musicians to boot.

The kickoff for the scholarship fund will be held with a musical event July 9, 6:30 p.m. at The Temple, at the intersection of North Claiborne and St. Francis streets downtown. Live music is planned and the public is invited.

Checks to the scholarship fund can be made payable to: Marcus Johnson Scholarship Fund; Commonwealth National Bank; P.O. Box 2326; Mobile, Alabama 36652-2326.

GCEHJF has also announced its lineup for an Aug. 1 free concert at The Temple. Featured acts are the Bay City Brass Band, the E.B. Coleman Big Band, Gino Rosaria, Janell Richardson and headliner Eddie Shaw. The show begins at 3:30 p.m.

There will be vendors’ booths, and food and drink will be available for purchase.

Stay tuned for more announcements as the month proceeds.

In case you missed it …
If you happen to be someone who doesn’t start at the front of the paper and go through it page by page, then get ready to back up. The saga at the History Museum of Mobile has taken another turn.

On Friday, June 26, the entirety of the museum’s staff was notified their positions are going to be terminated. This follows a nearly year-long dispute with Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s administration over the exact terms of administrative control, and it would appear the mayor has decided to cede the fight to the board for now.

At question will be how this might affect attendance. The mayor waived admission fees last October against the board’s wishes and since then visitor flow has increased some 60 percent over the previous five years.

At the heart of the contention is the administration’s argument that without a lease agreement, the board holds no administrative powers. Specifics about leasing details or arrangements, and the performance contract that will come from the city, were not available at the time of this writing.

Only five of 24 employees are said to be retaining city employment through transfer to other departments.

For more details on this latest and boldest development in the ongoing saga, check out the story in the Bay Briefs section toward the front of this issue of Lagniappe.